A Rising Role in Global Health By Stacey Hilton
A Unique Culture of Training
For the past six years, Duke Anesthesiology has been committed to taking its residents outside the walls of Duke University Hospital and into underprivileged countries to make a difference in the lives of others. Duke Anesthesiology offers one CA-3 resident an American Board of Anesthesiology accredited, month-long global health residency rotation each year—a rare opportunity for residents to expand their knowledge and improve the quality of anesthetic care of patients abroad while working alongside an attending physician from Duke at Ridge Hospital in Ghana. “We live in a bit of a cocoon here where things are pretty perfect,” says Dr. Yemi Olufolabi, the attending physician and obstetric anesthesiologist who has made it his mission to travel with Duke residents on their global health trips to reduce maternal mortality. “The real world tasks you to think outside the box. The real world requires you to be very creative in low resource countries. It’s really important for our residents to have this type of experience and exposure.” “I have been passionate about global health for a long time and I knew I wanted that to be part of my education. I don’t know of any other institution that offers this and frankly, it was the reason I chose to come to Duke,” says Dr. Tera Cushman, then CA-3 anesthesia resident who was chosen to join Dr. Olufolabi for Duke Anesthesiology’s mission trip this past January. “Not only was www.kybeleworldwide.org the rotation in Ghana the most Known as the “Greek goddess of fun, month-long board exam I’ve childbirth” in Turkey ever had, but it also challenged me to really hone my craft, to This year, Duke Anesthesiology ask why, and to be adaptable.” celebrates the 15th anniversary Dr. Cushman’s role during the of the founding of Kybele, the non-profit organization that trip was to participate in the edput the department’s Global ucation of anesthetists at a nursHealth Program into motion ing school that Kybele founded and continues to support as part of Duke’s global health mission trips with faculty efforts in Ghana. She lectured and residents. with anesthesia students, taught 34
(Above) Dr. Tera Cushman poses with nurse anesthetist students in Ghana. (Below) Dr. Yemi Olufolabi demonstrates to students how to properly use medical equipment donated by Duke.
them basic life support and anesthesia for various surgeries, and provided simulation training, spending most of her time in general operating rooms. Dr. Cushman says due to limited resources, there are many instances where these CRNA students will graduate and return to their hometowns where they will be the only certified, trained anesthesia provider working at their district hospital. “It seems scary to think that they are alone at a hospital with no other CRNAs or anesthesiologists to lend a hand, but that’s their reality. It’s crucial that we teach these students how to expand their capacity so they can provide quality anesthesia care to those in their community.” Dr. Cushman says at the end of her trip, two of her students successfully resuscitated a patient who was coding, applying the lessons they learned, which had a resounding impact on her. “To see our teaching save a life was an amazing moment for me. This mission trip left me with a strong commitment to global health which I’ll be sure to make time for in my career. I can’t imagine a satisfying career that doesn’t include this for me.” For Dr. Olufolabi, “I more or less live to go,” he says. “I come alive when I’m down there. We have a role to play in the lives of others who are less privileged. I am proud to take that role on board – to help others see that that role is really important.”
The Duke Guatemalan Project
“When I return from our mission trips, I have a renewed sense of purpose in the fact that what I do makes a difference.” Over the course of four days, Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Brad Taicher and his team helped care for 43 children in Guatemala City, providing them a range of both general and neurological procedures. “All of them went well and most importantly, all of the kids were happy and safe by the end of the week when it was time for them to go home. When they give you a hug it’s something that is very unique. You can feel you’ve changed their life.” It’s a mission trip Dr. Taicher has taken each year for the past